rif team

 MARIA BLACQUE-BELAIR   Executive Director/Founder   Maria BB established RIF as a welcome center for asylum seekers in 2006. She is a clinical social worker who has worked with refugees for the past twenty years. Prior to working in New York, Maria worked in major humanitarian crises in Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She also worked in the Romanian orphanages after the fall of dictator Ceausescu. Maria provides psychosocial assistance to relief workers at  Doctors Without Borders  (MSF/USA) on an as-needed basis. Maria is bilingual in French and English and speaks Spanish.

MARIA BLACQUE-BELAIR

Executive Director/Founder

Maria BB established RIF as a welcome center for asylum seekers in 2006. She is a clinical social worker who has worked with refugees for the past twenty years. Prior to working in New York, Maria worked in major humanitarian crises in Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She also worked in the Romanian orphanages after the fall of dictator Ceausescu. Maria provides psychosocial assistance to relief workers at Doctors Without Borders (MSF/USA) on an as-needed basis. Maria is bilingual in French and English and speaks Spanish.

 Sarah cast   Program Coordinator   Prior to moving to New York, Sarah worked as a researcher for a conflict resolution group at the University of Colorado and spent six months reporting on the Colombian conflict and politics as a journalist in Medellín. She earned her master’s degree in international affairs from the New School where she focused on conflict and security studies. She joined RIF after completing her final master’s project with the organization in 2016. Sarah also volunteers and fosters for an animal rescue in Brooklyn.

Sarah cast

Program Coordinator

Prior to moving to New York, Sarah worked as a researcher for a conflict resolution group at the University of Colorado and spent six months reporting on the Colombian conflict and politics as a journalist in Medellín. She earned her master’s degree in international affairs from the New School where she focused on conflict and security studies. She joined RIF after completing her final master’s project with the organization in 2016. Sarah also volunteers and fosters for an animal rescue in Brooklyn.

 ELLIE ALTER   Communications and Advocacy Consultant   A native New Yorker, Ellie became involved with RIF through her farm apprenticeship at  Brooklyn Grange : the world's largest rooftop soil farm. In 2014, she began volunteering as a facilitator for the  Urban Farm Recovery Project – a program in partnership with the farm that provides asylum seekers with a paid fellowship in urban agriculture. Growing, cooking, and eating food is her favorite mode of transcending barriers, celebrating difference, and connecting with her community. Ellie speaks English, Spanish and Hebrew.

ELLIE ALTER

Communications and Advocacy Consultant

A native New Yorker, Ellie became involved with RIF through her farm apprenticeship at Brooklyn Grange: the world's largest rooftop soil farm. In 2014, she began volunteering as a facilitator for the Urban Farm Recovery Project– a program in partnership with the farm that provides asylum seekers with a paid fellowship in urban agriculture. Growing, cooking, and eating food is her favorite mode of transcending barriers, celebrating difference, and connecting with her community. Ellie speaks English, Spanish and Hebrew.

 Niurka Melendez   Program Associate   A founder of  Venezuelans and Immigrants Aid  (VIA), Niurka is an outspoken activist who supports and advocates for the Venezuelan disapora in NYC.

Niurka Melendez

Program Associate

A founder of Venezuelans and Immigrants Aid (VIA), Niurka is an outspoken activist who supports and advocates for the Venezuelan disapora in NYC.

 Tanzilya Oren   Volunteer Education Consultant   Tanzilya is a licensed social worker, certified career counselor, doctoral student at Fordham University. Tanzilya is a passionate advocate to improve services for newly arrived immigrants.

Tanzilya Oren

Volunteer Education Consultant

Tanzilya is a licensed social worker, certified career counselor, doctoral student at Fordham University. Tanzilya is a passionate advocate to improve services for newly arrived immigrants.

 Nazanin mehr   Volunteer Health Consultant   An Iranian physician, Nazanin is currently studying to obtain her U.S. medical license. She also works as a medical interpreter. She has been involved in medical and humanitarian projects to improve women's health.

Nazanin mehr

Volunteer Health Consultant

An Iranian physician, Nazanin is currently studying to obtain her U.S. medical license. She also works as a medical interpreter. She has been involved in medical and humanitarian projects to improve women's health.

our volunteer legal team

 Angela torregoza   Immigration Attorney at LegalEase Law Firm and CUNY Law School    

Angela torregoza

Immigration Attorney at LegalEase Law Firm and CUNY Law School

 

 caitlin Steinke   Immigration Attorney at Khinelaw Law Firm

caitlin Steinke

Immigration Attorney at Khinelaw Law Firm

 ellen Friedman   Accredited Legal Representative at Safe Horizon

ellen Friedman

Accredited Legal Representative at Safe Horizon

Board members

Shadrach Gonzalez Fher

Audu Kadiri

Bea Plasse

Carol Skyrm

 

Anne and baby.png

RIF Photgrapher

Anne Saint-Pierre. View her work on her website or the RIF gallery.